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Everything posted by Dante

  1. It does not follow that 'all governments will be enforcing the same objective laws' simply because objective political principles are discovered, not created, by men. These political principles result from a long process of induction and deduction, and people are not infallible or inerrant in this process. Consider the laws of economics; we are clearly discovering, rather than creating, these laws, and yet there is wide disagreement even among professionals about even the most basic questions. One central principle of Rand's philosophy is that individuals are not inerrant, that there is no
  2. This is all true. However, this does not give carte blache for the government to keep out anyone that it wants to, simply because voters like it. A proper border policy would screen for criminals and enemy combatants, and keep those people out. Keeping out anyone else, on economic grounds for example, is an abuse of government power, and is just as illegitimate as any other time the government reaches beyond its fundamental purpose of protecting our rights.
  3. Each individual that is granted such authority as a member of the government also accepts the responsibility to use such authority to faithfully execute the laws of the government. Thus, whether this exercise of authority is legitimate or not depends once again on the legitimacy of the laws themselves. Governmental legitimacy is determined by whether these laws stick to or deviate from the proper function of government.
  4. Sorry to have introduced such confusion. The salient point here is this: The individual in the original post who opposes Law A (capital punishment) removes his explicit consent for this law from the government. The OP then goes on to claim that this means that the government is now initiating force against this person; that the withdrawal of explicit consent means that the government is now acting outside of its authority. This is not the case. The government does not need to obtain explicit consent from every citizen it represents for every law it passes. By participating in civil
  5. Sorry, I was thinking about explicit consent, but failed to type it. My defense of that statement is above, in post 5.
  6. Consider the very next passage in that essay: Rand clearly states the issue on which men have delegated authority to the government if they choose to live in civilized society. I should have spoken more clearly: Rand's theory clearly leaves no role for the kind of explicit consent your example involves. One cannot participate in civil society and at the same time attempt to retain authority over the details of the use of retaliatory force. The type of explicit statement "I agree with the way in which the government is protecting my rights" is not a necessary condition for a citiz
  7. You can turn off the new style of quoting in the reply box with the "BBCode Mode" button, it looks like a lightswitch and it's the first one. This turns off all the other reply box functions, but you can toggle it on and off to quote in the old way and still use the other functions (bold, emoticons, etc). This solves the problem of copying and pasting quote blocks, at least for me. I'm currently using Google Chrome.
  8. This is not an accurate characterization of legitimate government. A government does not gain or lose its legitimacy based on whether it "obtains voluntary, uncoerced agreement from its citizens." Such agreement is not a necessary condition for a proper government. Rand's political theory is not based on any form of consent theory.
  9. Is the issue here simply judging the character of a person vs. judging an action by that person? That's an interesting topic, and certainly we wouldn't say a person has an immoral character from one isolated action alone, particularly if that action is 'out of character' for that person. However, the point of the dynamiting is that it's a powerful expression of the characteristic artistic integrity that Roark has displayed throughout the entire novel, so I'm not sure the argument works here.
  10. This is simply wrong, and it's a case of losing historical and global perspective. Our government is an absolute mess compared to what it should and could be, but the very fact that you're writing about this without fear of prosecution disproves your point, as there are countries out there where you could not write such things about the government. The American government has real and serious problems, but let's not lose perspective and pretend that we have the worst government that ever existed on the face of the earth. That's just silly. People talk about us being Greece in the next f
  11. Stephen, Thanks for your reply. A theory of ethical egoism certainly has to justify any empathy and concern for others back to one's own self-interest, and I think this is precisely what the conception of caring about another's happiness does. It attains a direct and emotional benefit for the actor to do something good for someone they value. At the same time, an egoistic theory that claims to provide objective values cannot simply say that "whoever you happen to care about, you should act to value them" any more than it can say that "whatever you happen to value, value it" as hedonism
  12. The fraud and the dynamiting are two separate issues. On the subject of the fraud, Roark realizes and admits that he was wrong to engage in it and pass off his work as Keating's. This is part of his character progression; he initially doesn't see the harm in helping Peter, he feels sorry for him, etc. However, by the end, he has made this realization: Roark begins the novel with a mistaken premise and an inadequate understanding of the consequences of helping Keating in this way. The progression of the novel then illustrates, to Roark and to us, the consequences of this error. I
  13. You characterize Galt's actions as a continuation of this view expressed by Kira; it's not that Rand changed her mind, her characters just got more "creative" about forcing. That's how I read your statements, at least.
  14. I don't know many public choice scholars who do. Anarchists generally are willing to use the arguments to support their viewpoint, but most public choice economists take the same approach to government that economists generally take to the market: we can improve outcomes with some selective changes. At least that's my impression.
  15. In the debate, John Mackey charges that following a strict conception of self-interest will lead one to disregard any actions taken for others. He accepts the dictionary definition of selfishness and argues against living by it, saying that we should take others into account and balance our interests with those of others. Kelley responds by disputing this conception of selfishness, as he should, and immediately refers to his own work on benevolence and its relation to selfishness. In so doing, he gives a hypothetical of a neighbor's house burning down, and discusses self-interested reasons
  16. David Kelley, founder of the Atlas Society, recently debated John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and admirer of Ayn Rand, on the role of selfishness in our lives and in our societies. I just watched it and had a response that I felt compelled to write down and then share here. The debate is here: http://www.atlassociety.org/david-kelley-debates-john-mackey David Kelley defends Rand's conception of selfishness while Mackey accepts the traditional view of selfishness and argues that some selfishness is good, but too much is a bad thing, and it should be balanced with other virtues. I thin
  17. She struck that passage because it no longer accurately represented her worldview, and she wanted to avoid the attempts of others to paint her mature philosophy with the same brush... which seems to be exactly what you're trying to do.
  18. 'Postmodernist garbledee-gook'? Public choice economics simply applies a central economic principle (incentives matter) to the behavior of politicians in government as well as businessmen in a marketplace. Fundamentally, it is about looking at the incentives that politicians actually face, and evaluating how effective a given government program or institution will actually be at achieving its goals, based on how it is structured. To the OP, public choice does point out some endemic problems that are faced by democratic systems. This is not the same as saying that the system is broken to
  19. Interesting... Wasn't there a priest character planned in AS (or maybe TF) but then was left out of the novel?
  20. Although I think this particular case of requiring Atlas Shrugged is ridiculous, we shouldn't give up trying to influence school curricula simply because schools are currently public. If a couple of creationists got on the school board in your county and started assigning creationist materials for science classes, would you push back? Or simply shrug and suggest that schools be privatized?
  21. ... You really see no option other than either to judge all of her characters' thoughts and actions as the paragon of virtue, or to disregard everything in her books? Nothing between those two?
  22. I think that's the wrong analysis. In my view, The Fountainhead is simply more optimistic about American society at that point than is Atlas Shrugged. Roark makes his case before the jury, and is acquitted. In The Fountainhead, beneath all of the ridiculousness of high society and the scheming of Ellsworth Toohey, the average American has respect for the integrity of a creator and for the sanctity of the individual and his creative work. Thus, Roark is able to make his case, and the public identifies with and accepts it. We see similar scenes in Atlas Shrugged; for example, when the cro
  23. However, Brook doesn't allow these scenarios, because he further specifies the context of his statements: immediate self-defense against criminals, in a country with a legitimate government and a functional military that will defend you against anything bigger. In that context, your provision of your own self-defense does not require nuclear weapons, biological weapons, any of that. If that context doesn't apply; for example, if you're in a revolt (to use the case Brook discussed) then things might be different. However, when we're talking about the case of gun control measures being enacte
  24. He doesn't define the line in practical terms, in terms of specific weapons, but he draws a crystal clear philosophical line between defensive and offensive weapons. The right to self-defense is an individual right that must be recognized by the government. There is no room here for trying to reduce shootings or gun deaths by banning specific weapons that are commonly used in such crimes. You look at the weapon, determine whether it is a viable weapon for self-defense or not, and then you're done. No 'banning this gun would reduce gun violence by X' or 'well, these guns are mostly used in
  25. Christianity does not explicitly set its moral code against the interests of its followers, or 'completely oppose living for oneself.' It claims to preach an ethical code which benefits the practitioner. Rand herself did a good job of highlighting the contradiction between the egoistic focus on personal salvation and the altruistic code that is actually advocated: (from Letters of Ayn Rand p.287, written in 1946) It would be better to say that Christianity sets itself in opposition to the actual moral code that is compatible with living for oneself; it claims to lay out this moral co
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